There is an old saying that states that if you are multi-disciplined in your chosen field of endeavour you can be described as a ‘jack of all trades’. In the financial services market that can seem a derogatory label.
However, someone who has taken the time to become competent and skilled in different fields, such as investments, pensions and mortgages should be rightly proud of that accomplishment, particularly as it has been backed up and evidenced by extensive study and exams to achieve that status.
And yet, specialisation does allow for a particular concentration on a specific area of advice and I think it would be fair to say that a specialist in a particular field, who has made that area his or her complete focus, would be a natural choice to go to for help rather than to a generalist.
Mortgage brokers are a case in point. If I was a member of the public, I would be more likely to gravitate to seeking advice from an adviser whose total focus is on the mortgage market, in the same way I would seek out a specific adviser for investment advice.
However, as the mortgage market continues to evolve into mainstream and specialist lending channels, it is more important than ever that advisers have the experience of dealing with the growing number of customers who have requirements that do not fit into the more rigid templates offered by the larger high street players.
The specialist sector has become a wide church, which not only includes first and second charge lending but has encompassed bridging and commercial finance and has also welcomed equity release under its umbrella.
The challenge for all advisers who offer lending advice is how they can keep abreast of lender developments in such a diverse market, where new lenders, products and the attendant criteria arrive and change with predictable regularity.
The best resources for any adviser out there, apart from the ever present sourcing engines, are the third party distributors, which, whether they call themselves packagers or master brokers, represent a knowledge base that is far superior to any other helpmate, electronic or otherwise. Whatever your feelings about distributors, the accumulated expertise and understanding, as well as communication with lenders, is well worth tapping into.
The best distributors have specialist personnel in each area and it is still a mystery why more advisers do not take advantage of this ‘human software’, if only for research purposes.
It is a free service and can save you time and money as well as complementing your own practice.
The more complex a client’s individual circumstances, the more likely that advisers need to turn to specialist distributors to provide a finer level of sourcing that traditional sourcing engines cannot yet match.
Interestingly, the arrival of deep search criteria platforms such as Criteria Hub and Knowledge Bank, demonstrates the overwhelming amount of information that brokers need to sift through, some of which is not clear when doing an initial sourcing search.
Advisers are time poor and are having to sift through masses of lender information, a lot of which is hard to find, and yet so much of the heavy lifting can be done by exploiting the resources provided by specialists like Fluent for Advisers.
We are not only educating advisers about second charge mortgages and the wider specialist lending sector but also converting many practitioners to the concept of making more use of our human expertise backed by our broad based lender panel and close relationships with lenders.
Jeff Davidson is head of intermediaries at Fluent for Advisers